NDC 09 – second-hand overview

Not able to attend myself, I was interested to know what was going at NDC this year. The line-up looked pretty good, including legends ‘Uncle Bob’ Martin, Stephen Blair-Chappell, Phil Haack and several others, plus demos, exhibits… etc.

I managed to get a download from a few of my sources on the ground, who reported that the event was interesting and full of useful tips for the 1,000 or so software developers in attendance – specifically around .NET and Java. They sent across a few pictures which show the sheer vastness of the place!

One particular highlight was reported as Uncle Bob’s presentation, ‘Are you a professional?’ In the talk, Martin focused on outlining three unit testing laws:

1 – You must write failing unit tests before coding
2 – Stop writing that unit test as soon as it fails; and not compiling is failing
3 – You must stop writing production code as soon as the currently failing test passes

He also added a few simple tips for programmers, like, ‘Never stop learning new things,’ ‘Be able to speak many [programming] languages and always learn new ones,’ and ‘Repeat algorithmic concepts like back tracking or doing a quick sort, without looking it up in a book each time.’ Sage advice.

Stephen Blair-Chappell, one of Intel’s multicore gurus, presented on ‘Leaping over the parallel chasm,’ plugging the recent full launch of Parallel Studio (which many of us used in beta over the past year – reviews summary of full product to come soon!) Blair-Chappell showed how PS can help to solve challenges and bugs developers encounter through each stage of parallel application development. He walked the audience through an example from hotspot analysis, through coding, debugging specific parallel non-deterministic bugs, such as data races and deadlooks all the way through to performance fine-tuning (load imbalances and synchronisation overhead.) An article he wrote for DDJ covering similar ground can be found here.

All in all, it seemed like a great event. Shame I couldn’t go but I’d be interested to hear from anyone else who was there!

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